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Suzhou (苏州 Su Zhou), China is a more traditional city in China. Located in Zhe Jiang Province, it is famous for its more traditional attractions, in particular, its ancient traditional gardens, architecture and local cuisine.
Ping Jiang Lu (平江路) or Ping Jiang Road is an old cobblestoned street located along SuZhou canal, lined with shops selling traditional Chinese products. You won’t find any factory mass produced touristy souvenirs here, no mugs, fridge magnets, key rings or baseball caps, just authentic mostly hand made products. Ping Jiang Lu is a popular yet low-key outdoor attraction, and can be visited both during the day or at night. It is not an active and large night market but its authentic old street is fun and relaxing to visit at night for a stroll.
One can get tea ware, Qi Pao (Qi-Chinese style clothing but I personally prefer Han Fu which is Han-Chinese style clothing), traditional style timber and bamboo household furniture and homewares, snack foods and traditional or country style Chinese restaurants. There are small stone bridges and traditional Chinese style buildings. There was a bubble tea shop (Coco) and I heard there is also a Starbucks but you won’t find any super modern shops or restaurants here, so that’s a plus for me. I recommend it for people who like traditional or old streets turned into commercial businesses.
A friend accompanied me here on a night trip when I visited in July (2016).
During the day, there are traditional hand rowed boat tours on the canal, for Y150 per boat, each boat fits about 5-6 people (estimating from size of boat from memory) so it’s best to go with a group of people. If you are travelling solo, you might even make some new friends if you share a boat with fellow tourists.
There are a variety of small shops and stalls selling snacks and other products. I visited a stall selling handmade adorable steamed buns and other dian xin or assorted pastries/snacks.
Tried one of these, these were rose shaped and flavoured sticky rice snacks with red bean paste.
A notebook in the style of a traditional stitch-bound book found at a traditional stationery and books store.
This is a traditional lunch basket but obviously now you can just use it as decoration or a fruit basket. Sold at a traditional homewares store.
Tea ware shop. Almost everything here is for sale, including the furniture. Unfortunately they do not fit in my luggage.
Hand carved timber plaque. Also from the tea shop.
Getting here by taxi:
The street is closed to vehicles, but taxi drivers would be able to drop you off at Ping Jiang Road (平江路).
Signs for public toilets were seen but I did not personally visit them.
This is I’d recommend at least about 1.5-2 hours depending on whether you are just strolling, or plan to try out the snack foods, browse the stores in detail or want to have lunch or dinner here. The boat trip as indicated on the sign is 40 minutes in duration but I did not go on one this time.
Suzhou does not have an airport, so the closest airport is in Shanghai, both international and domestic.
Some helpful phrases:
qǐng dài wǒ qù [píng jiāng lù], xiè xie
(Please take me to [Ping Jiang Road], Thank you)
qǐng wèn, [cè suǒ] zài nǎ r？
(Excuse me, where is the [toilet]?)
wǒ bù xiǎng yào [là jiāo]
(I don’t want [chilli])
wǒ xiǎng yào __/ gè
(I want __/[gè ] indicates quantity)
Click here for the official website (In Chinese).
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